Chris Wilken is the North Africa Desk Officer for Market Access and Compliance.
At least half of the companies returning from a recent trade mission to Tunisia have reported promising leads, indicating that they intend to return to the country to finalize deals. Ten U.S. companies participated in the Trade & Investment Mission, organized by the Department of State and joined by Assistant Secretary of Commerce Suresh Kumar. Mission participants included companies in renewable energy, private equity, defense/security, and telecommunications sectors. Companies had more than 70 meetings with potential local partners and Tunisian government officials. The goal of the trade mission was to foster ties between the American and Tunisian private sectors so that U.S. companies participate in Tunisia’s successful political transition.
Tunisia’s recent political changes have dramatically improved the business environment for American companies. The trade mission members were told by the new Tunisian officials of the high regard they hold for U.S. companies and their desire to see an increased U.S. business presence in the country. Government officials also indicated that they wish to move forward on a number of pro-business economic reforms. There is also a major push in Tunisia to focus on the prevention of corruption, a major grievance leading to the departure of President Ben Ali.